24th Sunday in Ordinary Time B 21
Peter was feeling pretty good about himself. While everyone else gave answers of what other people were thinking about Jesus though the one about John the Baptist was strange since he had recently been put the death, Peter, in a moment of insight blurted out: “You are the Christ.” He got Jesus’ identity right! Jesus was (and is) the Anointed One, the Messiah!
While the identity was correct, the way of being the Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah was far different than what Peter expected. After telling him and the rest of disciples to keep his identity secret, Jesus throws them for a loop. Putting aside their dreams of power and glory, Jesus tells them he would suffer greatly, be rejected by the religious hierarchy, and be killed but rise again, something unheard of. This was so outlandish Mark said he said it openly. No wonder Peter took Jesus aside privately to rebuke him!
But then Peter was rebuked publically, in front of all the disciples, called Satan, the great tempter, and to get behind Jesus where he could not lead Jesus astray; and, furthermore, he was not thinking like God does but on a lower level as humans do. Peter must have been humiliated and embarrassed.
Jesus would teach them time and again what was awaiting him. In Mark’s Gospel there are two more times he warned them; but, they did not or would not understand then and sadly while it was really happening. They ran away.
In time, the Christian community would understand and believe, getting affirmation from the Jewish Scriptures, especially from the Suffering Servant prophesies of Isaiah.
But, what does faith in Jesus mean? It’s more than going to Mass, listening (and occasionally singing) moving music, reciting prayers, and saying nice things to people, and being pleased with ourselves. It involves more than being satisfied with correct belief, knowing and keeping all the dogmas. According to James, it includes actions to alleviate suffering when you see it, not well wishes. It also means carrying our crosses and sometimes helping others to carry theirs.
We are to follow Jesus rather than make Jesus follow our ideas of what discipleship is or is not. We are to take to heart all of his words rather than chose those we like. We are all learners right up to the end of our journey of faith.